Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Clean up the Ecuadorian Amazon

Mr. David J. O'Reilly:

I write in support of the indigenous peoples and campesinos of the Ecuadorian Amazon, who are suffering a public health crisis, including a wave of cancers, as a result of your company's deliberate dumping of 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into the waterways of the Ecuadorian Amazon. While your company left Ecuador in 1992, the damage it left behind, including roughly 17 million gallons of spilled crude oil, continues to harm thousands of innocent people.

As you are surely aware, earlier this week, Pablo Fajardo and Luis Yanza, two community leaders who have spearheaded this class-action lawsuit against Chevron, were awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. Instead of taking this opportunity to change course, applaud the courageous winners of the Goldman award, and commit to a full-scale clean-up of the contaminated regions of the the Ecuadorian Amazon, your company launched a repugnant public relations assault, designed to hide the disaster in Ecuador from the general public, financial markets, and your shareholders.

Under your leadership, Chevron has spent millions, possibly hundreds of millions of dollars, on lawyers, lobbyists and PR experts to fight this case for more than a decade, while, in Ecuador, impoverished villagers, including a dwindling number of indigenous people, continue to die. As you well know, should the judge find Chevron liable, something which is now expected to happen in the next few months, your company will be facing a damages pay-out several times larger than that of the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Mr. O'Reilly, to this day, hundreds of toxic waste pits leach heavy metals and cancer causing chemicals into the fragile rainforest ecosystem on which thousands of local people depend. Indigenous communities such as the Siona, Secoya, Cofan, Huaorani and Quichua and local campesinos are suffering a wave of cancers, still births and birth defects.

Mr. O'Reilly, I believe it is the responsibility of ChevronTexaco to immediately

1. Perform a complete environmental remediation of its toxic contamination in the Ecuadorian Amazon, including:
* the removal and the adequate treatment of the contaminating materials still existing in the crude oil pits or ditches opened by Chevron (formerly Texaco);
* the cleaning of rivers, estuaries, lakes, swamps and natural streams contaminated by its dumping;
* the removal of all machinery in the former wells, stations and sub stations;
* and in general, the clearance of the terrains, plantations, crops, roads and buildings where there may still exist residual contamination produced as the consequence of the operations directed by Chevron (formerly Texaco).
2. Compensate the communities in the affected areas;
3. Immediately ensure access to clean drinking water and healthcare for the affected communities;
4. Adopt and implement comprehensive, transparent and verifiable human rights and environmental policies in order to prevent future abuses;
5. Adopt and implement a policy of Free, Prior and Informed Consent for all future development projects.

Sincerely,

Albert and Ingrid Howard

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